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How to pray for the crisis in Japan

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Last week, the Tenrikyo Church Headquarters had announced to perform a three-day prayer service or onegai-zutome, for the recent earthquake that triggered a tsunami and put Japan in crisis. In same suit, other Tenrikyo churches have also announced to perform a three-day prayer service as well. More than ever, Japan could use all they help they can get.

I would like to explain how you can help through the Tenrikyo prayer service (onegai-zutome).

The Prayer Service

I can imagine many people, especially outside of Japan, feel helpless and feel as if they can do nothing or offer very little monetary support.  However, Tenrikyo followers and non-followers alike have one thing that they can do is pray.  In Tenrikyo, we are taught the Service, which is the very basic part of the teaching that we can perform at any time and any place. So I would like to describe how to perform the onegai-zutome.

First of all, the onegai-zutome, is a prayer service that can be performed to ask God the Parent and Oyasama for guidance for yourself or for help in saving another person from illness (mijo) or a bad situation (jijo).

God will accept if you are sincere

When making any prayer, you must cleanse your heart through hinokishin or the Service, to ensure the sincerity in your heart to have a “mind of saving others.”  Only when your heart is sincere will then God the Parent accept your prayer.  Some make resolutions for the sake of saving others by doing things such as giving up a bad habit and contribute the money saved to the relief efforts for the crisis.

Performing the Prayer Service

  1. Face the Jiba. Accuracy is not very necessary but try to face its general direction. You do not need necessarily sit down seiza style (i.e., formal sitting style on your knees). You can sit on a chair or even stand if you need to. The best case scenario is to visit your local church or mission center and perform on your own or with the members of the church.
  2. Clap four times to initiate your prayer to God the Parent and bow towards the Jiba. You may say your prayer aloud or say it in your thoughts. An example of a prayer could be, “God the Parent, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, I pray that you help save and guide those who have suffered from the recent tsunami in Japan. Please accept my sincerity.”
  3. Perform the seated service. The seated service is a hand-dance accompanied by singing and musical instruments. (However, in most cases, wooden clappers are the only instrument used for a prayer service.) You may download the music along with the lyrics for assistance.
    Or perform the Teodori. If you are not capable of performing Yorozuyo and all of the Twelve Songs of the Mikagura-uta, this might be God the Parent’s message for you to start practicing more. This is the perfect time to start practicing to perform the Teodori.
  4. Closing. After you finish, you may add in a closing prayer, such as, “Thank you for your daily blessings, parental guidance, and for the healthy body I have borrowed. Once again, please help and guide those suffering in Japan and accept my sincerity.” Clap four times to end your prayer to God the Parent
  5. Clap four times for your prayer to Oyasama and make bow to make a prayer. If you are at a church, face Oyasama’s shrine when you are doing this. An example for a prayer to Oyasama could be something like, “Thank you for your guidance and helping me in my prayer for saving others.” Clap four times again to close your prayer.

* There is no need to make a prayer to the Memorial (Mitama-sama).

Praying for those who have perished

To pay respects to those have perished in the tsunami, you may face the Jiba and clap four times and say a prayer. When praying to the Memorial (Mitama-sama), you can pay your respects by saying something like, “Thank you for your hard work for your country in your respective jobs. Although distance divides us, we are grateful for your efforts as brothers and sisters.” Though, if you are praying for someone you know personally, you would give thanks for their hard for you in your life and laying the path before us.

Typically, prayers to the Memorial are to those who have helped laid the path before you to get you to where you are now, such as your grandparents, relatives, and the Yoboku of your church. But, as we are all connected as brothers and sisters, we all are together in this world.  Remember, “One World, One Family“!

I cannot emphasize the importance of the Service enough. Oyasama had urged followers to perform the Service until the day she hid her physical presence. If there is any message out of the recent events, it should be for everyone in this world to be urged to pray and save others.

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